Five steps to 5x your sales pipeline in 3 months
A lot of people think that marketing is solely concerned with long-term growth. If you need short-term financial fixes, they say, you need to turn to sales.
While it’s true that marketers have the big picture in mind, it’s simply false that they can’t help businesses in the here and now. A PPC push, an email re-engagement campaign, a promotional offer - each of these is designed to work in the space of days or weeks, not months. And each can add considerable value to your sales pipeline.
Even these short-term campaigns require strategic marketing thought, however. While sales might hammer a (GDPR-approved) list with cold calls to try and make immediate financial gains, we think there are better ways to go about it. So here are five ways marketing can fatten up your sales pipeline for the quarter.
1. Think about your existing customers
What’s your biggest source of future business? The customers you already have.
Customer retention should be part of any marketing strategy, especially one that’s driving directly toward sales growth. You stand a much better chance of selling to an existing customer than to a new one (60-70% odds, compared to 20%), and happy existing customers recommend you to others. To keep customers on board and increase their average value to the business, you need to keep them in touch with the human, personal side of your business. Open up communications and keep them going regularly, make them offers based on what they originally bought, and remain aware of which emails they’re opening and which calls successfully conclude. Customer retention is all about honing and building relationships.
2. Look at what the data tells you
Dun and Bradstreet claim that the best B2B salespeople spend two hours researching each prospect - and 85% of those salespeople say having the right data helps them save time and sell more efficiently.
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Use the data your business has already collected to inform your salespeople about the people to whom they’re selling. What do those people have in common? What problems do they have that your business can solve? When’s the right time to call them and what’s the right way to speak to them? See what’s worked well in the past, and double down on it. Don’t be afraid to ask sales for their data too - this helps you find out who’s doing well, ask them what they’re doing, and brief the rest of your personnel to do it too.
3. Drive sales with a promotion that adds value
Running a compelling promotion can give a good bump to your sales pipeline. This doesn’t have to be a massive, multi-channel, expensive campaign; what you’re after is something novel, attention-grabbing, shareable and ideally, quick to implement.
The goal is to add value in the short term, without adding too much cost to your operations. The key question to ask is: what do your customers prize? Would free haulage or next day guaranteed delivery benefit them in the short-term? Or would a relevant consultative chat work as a gateway offer, provoking customers to think about their business and what it needs? A simple discount can work wonders for a service based business - content management system (CMS) provider Wordpress doesn’t let a quarter go by without a “twelve months for the price of ten” offer on their website hosting service, which may be one of the reasons that 60% of the world’s websites use it...
4. Re-engaging a stalled pipeline
Look at dormant leads that have gone cold. The business leaders we work with often ask “how can I generate more leads?” - we always come back with “what are you doing with your current ones?”
If you’re generating leads and not getting sales, something is wrong with the conversion process, so work your way along. How are you moving people from target to prospect to opportunity to sale? How do people find you, what do they ask you, and how do you answer? You’ll find the spot where your communications are failing and too many leads are being let go. Each step needs to be owned by a particular person with a particular target, and every lead needs to be followed up. With this in mind, go back over previous leads, assess what went wrong, and find a way to reach out to them again. You are already on their radar which is half the battle.
5. Look for short-term external support
There’s no shame in asking for help if you need it. Outsourcing can bring in a new approach and new skills that revitalise your sales pipeline.
You may decide to use a sales promotion agency for a short-term boost in one area - lead generation or telesales, for example. You may bring in an agency to increase marketing activity in the short term and get a much-needed campaign turned around fast. You may reach out to a distributor, bringing products and services through a new route to market.
You may even bring in an experienced advisor to help you find your direction. A senior, directorial-level hire could give you the objective view you’re looking for, lending their experience of what’s worked well elsewhere.
There is nothing wrong with short-term sales activations at all, as long as they’re not all your Marketing Director is doing. Far too often marketers find themselves prioritising short-term goals over long-term strategy because of their immediate impact. But it’s the combination of brand building and sales activations and quick wins that accelerates growth over time. Businesses ignore either at their peril.
Whether it’s short term or long, marketing is all about results - and the baseline for results is always Return On Marketing Investment. Find out how to track your spending and boost your results in our ROMI webinar.
Featured image (CC) Bilfinger SE, via Flickr.